Just Living

Here at New City, we have a semi-regular highlight series called Just Living. The idea behind the series has been to intentionally heed the call of Micah 6:8, which says:

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

 

The idea behind this verse is that there are simple decisions that we make everyday that can perpetuate systems of injustice or help bring God’s justice into our world.

 

Some past topics have included:

–The importance of buying fair trade coffee

–Learning about compassionate ways to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises

–Seeing the plight of undocumented workers

–Raising awareness of Sex Trafficking

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MULTI-CULTURAL VOICES 

What does it mean to be a community of multi-cultural Christians? We live in an ethnically and culturally diverse world, and God’s desire is for the church to lead the way in cross cultural relationships. This was first evident in the early church through the inclusion of Gentile and Jewish believers, and the author of Revelation described the future of God’s Kingdom as a multicultural kingdom:

 

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9)

 

That means you and I are called to be multi-cultural Christians who know how to listen to and learn from people that come from different backgrounds. Because we live in a highly segregated, majority culture area, we aren’t always good at this.

 

So, in order to strengthen our multi-cultural muscles, we are going to invite some of the members of our community who are not a part of the majority culture, to come and share what their experience has been like. You can read the interviews by clicking on the links below.

 

Mary March Interview

 

Kris Nosworthy Interview

 

Carla Vernon Interview

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SYRIAN REFUGEES

 

Because of the Syrian Conflict, there are now more refugees in the world than at any time in recorded history. Here are some facts:

 

  • According to the United Nations, there are over 59.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world. That’s about 1 in every 123 people alive today.

 

Today we are faced with what is called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.  In some sense, it is incredible it is happening in our lifetime and then again, maybe we have been born for such a time as this…much like Queen Esther who courageous stepped up and stood in the gap for those in need in her time.

 

Right now in this Syrian conflict there is a great gaping need.  Jesus calls us to come alongside those who are suffering and demonstrate God’s love and compassion. What is our response? This is not about whether to allow refugees into the US or not.  We are not focusing on the political discussion but rather on helping to provide basic needs facing the refugees today.

 

In James 1:27, we read, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” And in Micah 6:8, we read, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.“

 

Just how many people are affected by this situation? Imagine that everyone is displaced for Ohio to California. That is half of the US population.

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Imagine every man, woman and child leaving home in 29 of 50 states. That’s everyone west of Ohio and Kentucky and north of Texas, all the way to California.

 

The 158 million people in those states make up the same percentage of the U.S. population — 49% — as the proportion of Syrians that have fled carnage there.

 

The war in Syria is so awful and unrelenting that more people have left that country than any other country in recent years. One of every five displaced persons in the world is Syrian.

 

Watch this video (courtesy of World Vision) to get a firsthand account of a Syrian displaced refugee.

HOW DID THIS WAR START? 

Syria’s conflict has spiraled out of control from peaceful protests against the government in 2011 and grew in violent insurgency that has drawn in numerous other countries.  There are wars within the war.  According to an article in the Atlantic and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “It’s partly a civil war of government against people; partly a religious war pitting Assad’s minority Alawite (pronounced Ala-Wheat) sect, aligned with Shiite fighters from Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, against Sunni rebel groups; and increasingly a proxy war featuring Russia and Iran against the United States and its allies. Whatever it is, it has so far killed 320,000 people, half of the country’s population is displaced out of out their homes, and it has facilitated the rise of ISIS.” (Quoted from the Atlantic article).  For a more in depth explanation, go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/syrian-civil-war-guide-isis/410746/

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(From the above Atlantic article)

In September 2015, a photo of 3 year-old refugee, Alan Kurdi, prompted an international response and changed public opinion. Alan’s story gave voice to the struggle of the Syrian refugees.  (Warning: May contain disturbing or graphic images)  http://globalnews.ca/news/2204006/these-images-changed-public-opinion-has-alan-kurdis-photo-done-the-same/

 

Another story referenced in today’s message was the TED talk given by Ms. Lee, a North Korean refugee and how a stranger helped her and became a symbol of hope for her and for the North Korean people in their time of need.  https://www.ted.com/talks/hyeonseo_lee_my_escape_from_north_korea?language=en#t-623364

 

HOW BAD IS IT OVER THERE?

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Syria Refugee Crisis Fast Facts

  • As of Feb 2016, the UN states the number has gone up to 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance of which 6.6 million are internally displaced in Syria, and over 4.8 million have fled as refugees in neighboring countries. 

 

  • Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; about 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe. Turkey is the largest host country with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees, and has spent over 8 billion Euros on direct assistance.  1.1 million refugees are in Lebanon. Many have taken up residence there in abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and in tent settlements on vacant land. Conditions are often crowded and unsanitary.

 

  • Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited.  According to UNICEF, 4 out of 5 children have been harmed by the war.  Millions have been forced to quit school.  Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Without adequate income to support their families and fearful of their daughters being molested, parents — especially single mothers — may opt to arrange marriage for girls, some as young as 13.

 

  • A fragile ceasefire began on Feb. 26, allowing humanitarian aid access to civilians who had been cut off for months.

 

Why are Syrians fleeing their homes?

  • Violence and Fear: (Warning: Some of these pictures may be sad or disturbing) Since the Syrian civil war began, 320,000 people have been killed, including nearly 12,000 children. About 1.5 million people have been wounded or permanently disabled, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict.

 

  • Collapsed infrastructure: Within Syria, healthcare, education systems, and other infrastructure have been destroyed; the economy is shattered.  Experts say this conflict will set Syrian children’s education back at least 10 years.

 

  • Children’s safety: Syrian children — the nation’s hope for a better future — have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, missed years of schooling, and witnessed unspeakable violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters and human shields according to the U.S. State Department.

 

What are their greatest needs?

  • Syrians fleeing conflict need all the basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, health assistance, shelter, and household and hygiene items. They have none of these.

 

  • They need reliable supplies of clean water, as well as sanitation facilities.

 

  • Children need a safe environment and a chance to play and go to school.

 

  • Adults need employment options in case of long-term displacement.

 

 

  • Compassion: In the midst of a complicated war, these are moms, dads, and children like you and me and they have no food, no shelter, no water, no hope.

 

OUR RESPONSE

What is our response to this deficit? This need?  How are we the hands and feet of Jesus?  Will you dare to step into the margins? I like the way The Message puts James 1:27 and Micah 6:8 James 1:27 says The Message (MSG) “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” Micah 6:8 says,“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.

 

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love.  And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.

 

World Vision is already on the ground there providing food, water sanitation systems, & emergency supplies. They have distributed baby kids, hygiene kits, medical assistance, supplementary education for kids, safe places for kids to play and working with churches on the ground over there. Since the beginning of the Syria refugee crisis, World Vision has helped nearly 2 million2 children and adults in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In Europe, we are now providing aid to refugees in Serbia. They are at work in the most broken places across the world.  We are joining a movement of churches who are committing to following Jesus to the margins by helping the millions of child refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

 

How Our Church Can Respond 

(Here are difference ways our church can respond) 

1. Gain awareness and educate others.  

2. Pray for the refugee’s health, food, water, shelter, and safety and pray for those working with them.

3. Take up a One Time Donation 

 

This is what we will be doing here today, through the week online, and next Sunday at New City.  If you feel compelled to give, you can give by check or cash (marked for Refugee Sunday) during the offering song or right now online on your phones at NEWCITYCOV.ORG/GIVE and mark it for Refugee Sunday.

4. Respond monthly to meet the needs of refugees 

 

The Refugee Responder Pledge is a monthly pledge people can signup for to offer lasting support to refugees living in unimaginable conditions. There are RESPONDER Pamphlets in the back of the sanctuary or at worldvision.org if you are interested in this option.